Tips & Tricks: Issue 33

Double-headed honer

Needing a way to hone the inner bevels of my carving gouges, I made a custom top knob strop for my Work Sharp 3000. The knob/strop is effective, easy to make, and does not interfere with access to the flat plate.

To make the strop, cut a 1"-thick stack of 2"-diameter discs from scrap cowhide, drill center holes in each one, and then thread onto a ¼"-20 × 4" carriage bolt. Secure the discs to the bolt with a washer and nut, and then add a few extra nuts so that the exposed end of the bolt is the same length as the original top nut. Finally, round the edges of the leather on a belt or disc sander. (You can also shape the disc to strop V-shaped tools.)

Screw the strop onto the top of the wheel, charge it with your favorite honing compound, and you’re set to hone outside and inside bevels at the same station.

—David Dabercoe, Sarasota, Florida

Sanding against the grain for a smoother finish

Pre-raising the grain before applying a water-based dye or topcoat is a good way to deal with the fibers that pop up when you add water, but if you’re not careful, you could only press down the fibers you want to remove. My approach may sound unconventional, but it works.

After finish-sanding and wiping the surface with a wet sponge, wait until the surface dries. Now using your final grit, very lightly sand across the grain.

Next, sand diagonally across the grain in one direction, and then in the other. This cross-grained sanding breaks away the fibers cleanly. Finish up by sanding parallel to the grain, using similar pressure to erase any cross-grained scratches.

—Peter Christian, Little Rock, Arkansas

Twin-flip hinge gauge

Two hinges and four boards are all you need to make an easy-to-use, easily repeatable Euro-hinge drilling jig. Simply attach a fence to a scrapwood or plywood base, draw a reference line halfway across the fence, and then attach the two hinged stops the same distance from that line. (Depending on your doors and hardware, this distance can be anywhere from 3-6".)

To use the jig, mark out your first door so that you can adjust the base to set the necessary edge clearance, and then set the bit depth. Flip down the first stop, butt one corner of the door against it, and drill your first hole. Next, flip the first stop up, and lower the second stop. Drill the cup hinge hole on the adjacent corner.

—Paul Mueller, Chantilly, Virginia

Safe bandsawing of small pieces

Equipped with a narrow blade, the bandsaw can easily cut small parts. The only problem is safely handling the pieces. It’s best to saw them from larger pieces that can be gripped at a safe distance from the blade. When that’s not possible, I find that the next best thing is to steer the piece using erasers at the ends of full-length pencils. Stick with new pencils with soft fresh erasers that haven’t  hardened over time.

—Mark Bentley, Napa, California

Tenon trimming trick

When cutting tenons, it’s easy to overcut a shoulder. To correct a small gap, assemble the joint, and then place a card scraper flat on the mortised piece. Using the metal as a spacer, score around the tenon with a knife. Now disassemble the joint and use a chisel or plane to pare up to your scored line.

When the joint’s reassembled, the shaving or two removed from the fat edge should allow the shoulder to sit seamlessly on the joining piece without affecting the fit of any other parts.

—Mark Hall, Seneca, New York

See-saw jig handles

Jig handles are not unlike any other hand tool; the go-to shop companion must be comfortable and intuitive.  Having experimented with dozens of different handle shapes and sizes, I found the perfect solution hanging on my wall: my favorite handsaw. I traced the handle onto a 1¼"-thick hardwood blank. (Use whatever scrap you have on hand, but I suggest starting with a blank that’s a few inches longer and wider than you might need, so that you can adapt the handle for multiple jigs.)

After cutting the handle to rough shape, invest a little time shaping and sanding it, and you may find that the jig graduates from “one-time” use to “new best friend.”

—Andy Rae, Ashville, North Carolina

Back to blog Back to issue